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Some thoughts on CV writing

Posted by | February 23, 2015 | Improve your resume, Resumes

Via LinkedIn : Have faith in yourself when you are writing your CV.

I once heard a speaker say to the audience in his opening address:

“They say that one in every three people is both intelligent and beautiful. I want you all to turn to your left and look very carefully at the person next to you. Look them up and down. Now turn to the person on your right and do the same; look them up and down really carefully……………. Right, it clearly is not them, so it must be YOU.”

Do not let your insecurities, low self-esteem and lack of confidence creep down into your CV as you write it. Have faith and belief in yourself and your CV.

There is no such thing as a single CV.

You undoubtedly have many talents and professional experiences, far too many to get down in one CV. So don’t try. You need to identify exactly what the decision-maker is looking for, probably from a job or role description, and then craft your CV in that direction. Depending on your skill set and business you are in, you may have five or six different types of CV.

Tailor the CV to the role for which you are applying.

Be creative with the material you have to work with. There will be many opportunities to take an experience and interpret the skills in accordance with the role for which you are applying. For instance, a particular role may have leadership, management, operational delivery and training components to it. You need to major on those that are applicable to the role for which you are applying. And finally, always write with the decision-maker in mind.

Look for good examples of CVs

Looking at examples of CVs will give you an idea of how to present your information. There are various formats around that can be used as a template. You can also ask around for examples from friends and colleagues, but risk access who you are asking, particularly if you are keeping your application quiet. It would probably not be a good idea to ask your boss for an example of a CV as even they may be bright enough to work out what you are doing!! If you do use an electronic version of another CV, only use it as a template for the structure. Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving in the name and even some of the work experience from the original author. And this does happen!!

Keep the CV as short as possible.

If you want to write your life story, write an auto-biography not a CV. Busy people do not want to spend a long time reading through a pile of CVs, so keep it punchy and short. The rule of thumb is one page for every ten years of work. Of course, if you have been doing the same thing in the same company for twenty years, then I would not suggest you try to stretch that out over two pages. Remember, “If it is not necessary to say, then it is necessary not to say it.”

Make it structured and ensure it reads well

It is very important that the CV is properly structured and flows logically. Start with your personal details and then your education or professional qualifications if these are relevant. This will enable the decision-maker to satisfy themselves that you will not be disqualified on the basis of not having the required qualifications for the role. The next section should be on your employment or professional experience. Always start with your current role and then work back in time. Then if the reader gets bored or has seen enough to make their decision, they have at least read the most recent evidence. If there are gaps, then it makes sense to explain them rather than just leave gaps. It might also be appropriate to give a reason for leaving a specific role. You can then finish off with a list of your skills and always include references. Personal statements are optional but if you feel you want to include one then make it relevant and remember the “show, don’t tell” rule.

Show, don’t tell.

In novel writing, there is a maxim, “show, don’t tell.” While you have to provide details of specific roles you have undertaken, please avoid superlatives like “leading,” “expert,” “foremost,” “and unique. If you were any or all of these things, you probably would not need to be writing a CV! Try to avoid the temptation to tell how good you are; show the person how good you are in the examples you use to demonstrate that level of experience. The most important thing is to let the decision-maker reach the conclusion that you are good. Remember that generally people like to buy, they don’t like to be sold to.

Tell the truth

There have been various studies into the voracity or truthfulness of the content in CVs and the results are generally shocking. There is only one rule for CVs on this issue: tell the truth. Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate and don’t make claims for other people’s work. Think about what this says about you and you integrity. Would you employ a liar? Just like false alibis, lies in CVs don’t hold up well, even to moderate inquiry. So why do it?

If you can, be different

Apart from excellent layout and succinct but effective description showing not telling about your experience, if there is an opportunity to be different, then seriously consider doing it. The decision-maker will probably be reading a number of CVs that will generally be pretty similar. CVs from new graduates are probably the most susceptible to being “samey.” This can be a tedious process and the decision-maker will welcome and almost certainly embrace a well-constructed CV that is different in some respect. Do you do anything outside of your mainstream employment that gives you specific additional skills? If so, include it.

Happy CV writing!

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